SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Missouri Southern’s impressive men’s cross country season ended on a downer.
The Lions, who were ranked sixth nationally all season, wound up 14th in the team standings on Saturday at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex.
And Lions sophomore Gidieon Kimutai held the lead late in the race before he apparently became sick and dropped to fifth place.
Kimutai, from Kenya who had won each of his five races this season, was among the leaders the entire race. He took the lead with less than 2,000 meters remaining, and he held a seven-second advantage with 900 meters to go. But he ran that final distance in three minutes and was passed by four runners.
By comparison, winner Ezra Mutai, a freshman at American International, ran 2:34 in the final split.
“We’re not sure what happened,” Lions distance coach Jamie Burnham said during a telephone conversation. “He said basically the last lap of the race he doesn’t really remember. He was throwing up afterwards.
“He was winning with a little more than a quarter of a mile to go and he ended up fifth, staggering to the finish line. The EMTs looked at him. He’s doing better (about 3 hours after the race). He still has a pretty bad headache, but I think that’s because he’s dehydrated. So something happened ... stomach flu or a bug because he was throwing up afterwards. It was a gallant effort. Even with the troubles that he had, he still got it done.”
Kimutai, who placed fourth last year behind three seniors, finished the 10K race in 29:49, 18 seconds behind Mutai. Kale Adams of Adams State took second in 29:43, followed by Taylor Stack of Western Colorado 29:47 and Kyle Moran of Colorado Mines 29:49.
The Lions, who won four meets and took second in the other, had a team score of 427 to take 14th place, three spots lower than they finished a year ago.
Nickson Kiptoo was 45th in 30:56, and the other MSSU finishes were Ryan Riddle 84th (31:25), Jarod Ozee 162nd (32:11), Cody Berry 199th (32:40), Josh Webb 224th (33:07) and Kevin Koester 241st (33:43).
“Nickson is the only other one who had a good race,” Burnham said. “I’m proud of him. He showed up today. The rest of them didn’t. It was not a good day, and I have no words to describe it. This is almost worse than last year because last year (in Pittsburgh, Pa.) there was the mud and the weather. There was no excuse. It was a perfect day. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have done better.”
Top-ranked Colorado Mines had all five runners in the top 20 and won the team title with 57, followed by Adams State 136, Chico State 143, Grand Valley State 177 and Northwest Missouri 206.
Fort Hays State received an at-large bid to the meet and was 29th among 34 teams with 629.
Led by Piper Misse, the Gorillas took 26th in the team standings with 635 points.
Misse placed 57th overall in 21:13 for the 6K race, and Cassidy Wesathoff was 77th in 21:28. Also running for PSU were Kari Blattner (184th, 22:35), Hannah Honeyman (187th, 22:39), Andrea Chestnut (228th, 23:19), Halle Helfrich (242nd, 23:41) and Kelsey Kinkade (244th, 23:43).
Adams State had six runners in the top 12 and dominated the team standings with 23 points, followed by Grand Valley State 87, Colorado Mines 133, Western Colorado 192 and U-Mary 233.
Stephanie Cotter led a 1-2-3 Adams State finish in 19:15, followed by Ellish Flanagan 19:39 and Roisin Flanagan 19:39.3. Ida Narbuvoll of U-Mary was fourth in 20:21, and Emmanuelah Chelimo of Alaska Anchorage was fifth in 20:18.
Adams State’s Kaylee Bogina, a senior who prepped at Northeast High School in Arma, Kansas, was her team’s No. 6 runner but earned All-America honors with her 25th-place finish in 20:51.
Saturday, Nov. 30
Class 6 championship: Joplin vs. De Smet, 3 p.m. at Faurot Field in Columbia
Class 5 semifinal: Carthage at Fort Zumwalt North, 3 p.m.
Class 4 semifinal: Ladue at Webb City, 1 p.m.
Class 3 semifinal: Trinity Catholic at Cassville, 1 p.m.